Portraits of Jury Truants
Have you ever received a jury duty summons and wondered “why me?” If yes, then you are not alone. While everyone should serve their duty, there will always be some who sneak out.
Apparently, jury avoidance is a hot topic. Today, websites claiming to offer guaranteed ways to avoid jury duty abound more than ever. Are we more apathetic, sybaritic, and self-indulgent today, or should we blame the busy court dockets, an avalanche in litigation, and an under-funded court systems? I won’t propose an answer here. But hopefully these portraits of truants who make sport of dodging their jury duties will cause them to look into the mirror and be ashamed of themselves.
“Know-It-All”: It seems that this person is an expert on everything. The enlightened opinion of “Mr. Know-It-All” no doubt obfuscates the presence of the judge, the jury, an expert witness, and for that matter the whole court trial. And, this is precisely the reason why Mr. “Know-It-All” is way overqualified to serve on the laypersons’ jury. So with a round of applause and a sense of relief let’s send the learned pundit away.
“No Englis”: Is it possible for a law school valedictorian to suddenly and completely and randomly lose recollection of his native English tongue–coincidentally, just as his deadline for jury service is fast-approaching? Perhaps he should have attended acting school.
“A Good Old Boy”: Do you know somebody who knows somebody in the law enforcement? That distant somebody – a friend or a relative you’ve never seen in your life but always wanted to meet – may prove to be a useful connection that can serve you well. And, the best thing is that you don’t have to send in candies, “thank you” notes, or pay a visit to your favorite friend or kindred in the middle of nowhere. A potential juror with a law enforcement link is feared, respected, and regularly taken off the jury.
“The Pious”: Thankfully if all else fails, we have G-d. Apparently being a believer can finally pay in real dividends. And, the best part is that it doesn’t really matter what you believe in, as long as you believe that one cannot render judgment against another fellow being. Are you a tree hugger or a sky kisser? Does walking courthouse hallways strain your precious chakras and makes you fear reincarnation into an ant? Do you cry and wet your bad often after daily prayers? If so, you may suffer from piety. Pious people are just too good to serve on the juries with the rest of us, and so often they don’t.
“The Underdog”: The underdog’s tirade starts off by recounting his endless battles with the system and dramatic encounters with authorities and concludes with a call to the masses for revolution. While the revolutionary call is likely to remain unhearkened, why take chances… So, our revolutionary underdog is sent away to agitate the masses elsewhere.
“A Sycophant”: Also referred to as “ass-kisser” in common English, this character is a great psychologist. Instead of shying away from the jury duty, he is eager to find any reason to justify serving on the jury. And, this is exactly why he is let off the hook. The sycophant is a flawless citizen: he has no biases, no time-conflicts, and no qualms about anything. The first cousin of the pious type, the sycophant is ready to jump out of his pants to serve on the jury and placate the judge, and hence is usually sent away from the jury crowd to hang out with his flawless pious compatriots.
“The Hypochondriac”: Do you invariably want to sneeze when your bladder feels full? Well, count yourself lucky: you must have cystitis, as well as a cold. Does that make you anxious? Congrats: you will be seeing a psychoanalyst for your anxiety disorder for the rest of your life… Does that make you cringe? Very well: you have a hump – seek chiropractor immediately. Even though a hypochondriac invents many ailments and symptoms, he may also subjectively believe in them, making his excuses so much more believable. A sanatorium, not a courthouse, is a proper repository for such a self-proclaimed patient, who in truth only appears to suffer from hypochondria, a real psychological condition, to evade serving his duty.
“The Excuse Expert”: Apparently, some prospective jurors believe in quantity over quality, and instead of focusing on one good excuse, real or invented, they open up the flood gates burying the entire courtroom in a barrage of inconsistencies. In any case, a potential juror who is taking an exotic vacation, undergoing an ophthalmologic surgery, and doing all of that while attending a baby-shower and a funeral for his favorite hamster, may after all be too busy for jury service on that day.
Jury truancy may come at a high cost. Judges have a lot of discretion to penalize those who spin lies shamelessly and without any fear, as if they are not in the court of law. Therefore, even from a pragmatic standpoint, serving one’s jury duty may be less cumbersome than making things up and entangling oneself in a sticky web of confusing lies that are all too obvious to the judge. Also, appearing for the jury service and actually serving on a jury is an extraordinarily fulfilling and educating civic experience that one has no excuse to forgo.